The psychiatrists and therapists at Women’s Behavioral Health Specialists help women manage pre-existing mental health conditions during cancer treatment and treat stress, anxiety, and mood disorders that develop after a cancer diagnosis.
Treatment for stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions during your cancer treatment depends on the specific cause, your symptoms, and the severity of your condition. Depending on your condition, your doctor may recommend one or more treatments, including:
A cancer diagnosis can cause a variety of emotions, including sadness, grief, fear, anger, frustration, stress, and worry — and these feelings can be overwhelming. As a result, some women develop feelings of depression or anxiety that are constant and severe.
Women may also experience cognitive problems — such as confusion, difficulty concentrating, slower thinking, and memory problems — as a side effect of cancer treatment. These cognitive problems are sometimes called “mental fog” or “chemo brain.”
Women who have pre-existing mental health conditions may need additional mental health care or expert advice on the risks and benefits of taking psychiatric medications during cancer treatment.
And, after cancer treatment is complete, some patients need ongoing mental health care to manage concerns about survivorship and cancer recurrence or lasting cognitive side effects of cancer treatment.
Mental health issues that require treatment after a cancer diagnosis may include:
Although it is normal to experience a variety of emotions after a cancer diagnosis, you should get help if you experience symptoms of depression or anxiety that last for more than a few days. Symptoms may include:
Anyone who is diagnosed with cancer can develop related cognitive, emotional, and behavioral issues. For some women, a cancer diagnosis may worsen the symptoms of a pre-existing mental health condition.
If you have a personal or family history of mental health conditions, you may be at a higher risk of developing a mental health condition after a cancer diagnosis. And, the more difficult or demanding your cancer treatments become, the higher the risk of anxiety and depression.
The best way to prevent mental health issues is to be proactive about your mental and emotional condition and get help at the first signs of problems.
You should tell your oncologist about any side effects or other obstacles you are experiencing during or after your cancer treatment. Your cancer care team may be able to help you reduce side effects by suggesting integrative therapies or adjusting your treatment plan. Your cancer can team also can connect you with additional supportive services, such as financial counselors and social workers.
It may help to eat well, exercise, give yourself time during the day to relax, and spend time doing activities you enjoy. Deep breathing, yoga, massage, and guided imagery may help you relax.
Cancer patients have heightened vulnerability for distress, anxiety, and depression at several transitions in their cancer course:
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